It was a bitter sweet occasion for Wayne McKenzie, President and CEO of Jamaica Energy Partners (JEP) and its affilliate, West Kingston Power Partners (WKPP), when the companies awarded academic scholarships totalling $11 million to students from various communities in West Kingston and St Catherine over the summer.
Thirty of the students, who were awarded based on their performance in the high school qualifying Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), received $175,000 each, while the eight tertiary students each received $1 million, or grants of $720,000 for the duration of their schooling. But the JEP president and CEO wished it could have been so much more.
“We have seen over 40 young minds who crave tertiary education [and] who are eager to contribute to nation building, but unfortunately we could only support eight,” he told the Jamaica Observer. Notwithstanding, sharing in the celebration of the awardees present seemed just the antidote to ease his sadness.
“It was sweet to see 30 young GSAT graduates transitioning to high school…and the bright smiles of those moving on to university. I feel really proud to be a part of this momentous occasion and to share in the joy of these wonderful young people,” he said.
JEP established its scholarship programme in 1997, while WKPP started in 2012. Combined, the companies have assisted over 1,000 secondary and tertiary students to date. In order to qualify for continued scholarships, high school students have to maintain a B+ average while tertiary students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0.
Among the students awarded this year were two children of employees f the power partners, who each received $60,000.
“Not only have we contributed to nation building, but have assimilated some of our recipients into our core business in the departments of human resource, engineering and finance,” McKenzie told Career & Education.
“It is with pride that we ensure the sustainability of our assets and have placed people in a critical position to contribute to nation building through medicine, education, finance and engineering – all consistent with our country’s 2030 [development] plan. We look forward to continuing to making a positive and enduring mark in the lives of our nation’s youth through, not just education, but in any way we can,” he added.
The award ceremony was staged on July 27. In his speech as guest speaker, State Minister in the Ministry of Education Floyd Green lauded the companies for their investment in the young people of Jamaica, and advised parents of the GSAT awardees to start saving for college.
“What I would suggest for all parents who are here who have students at the GSAT level that you start saving for their college education,” he said. “You have to believe it first, because if you don’t believe it, they won’t believe it. And the way to really show that you believe it is to start putting some money away because you and me know they’re going to reach there. They have already proven that they are among the best, but they can’t stop at secondary school,” he continued.
Green went on to encourage the awardees to build their self-confidence and believe in their dreams.
“You know what I find holds back a lot of our children? When they don’t have the confidence to believe in their dreams,” he said. “I want you to understand that anything you set your mind to, you can achieve it….I don’t want you to just say your dreams. I want you to believe that you are going to achieve it.”
Among the GSAT awardees were Andrena Williams, Bryanna Douglas, Clive McLeod, D’Sean Green, Divine Gardner, Israel Burnett, Judeen Hinds, Karell Thompson, Kellee Watson, Reneve Thomas, Rihanna Dussard, Sariah Dennis, Selina Edwards, Shakay Hamilton, Ajay McCormack, Anando Richards, Anna-Lise Williams, Ava Anderson, Ethan Parkes, Kemoya Davis, Kyra Nugent, Lianna Hylton, Maliek Cargill, Mercedes Watson, Odesha Thomas, Ronaldo Smith, Sashayla Waldron, Sherri Simms, Taquan Irving.
The tertiary scholarship recipients were Adrian Taylor, Antonica Clarke, Jadeja James, Joelle Hanson, Nicholas Nelson, Phillip Llewellyn, Sashuanna Carr, Suebarie Linton.
As a part of the companies’ commitment to education, JEP and WKPP also operate an adult literacy and training programme, an apprenticeship programme and a school feeding programme which ensures that students in West Kingston and Old Harbour Bay receive breakfast before school.